Eric Adams Wins Mayoral Primary

By Rachelle Anthony

MTA announces the opening of elevators at the Eastern Parkway-Brooklyn Museum station on the 2/3 lines on Fri., December 17, 2020.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
(Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit)

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was declared the winner in the New York City’s 2021 democratic mayoral primary election amid chaos when the Board of Elections counted test ballots. Adams won 50.5% of the votes, slightly ahead of Kathryn Garcia who won 49.5%. It was the first primary with ranked choice voting. Voters were able to rank up to five candidates in their order of preference.

As polling sites closed at 9 pm and thousands of absentee ballots were still being counted, New Yorkers watched election results updates and posted their support of candidates via social media accounts.

Adams had a large lead in the first few rounds of tabulation. Wiley was in second place and Garcia was in third.  Adams was filled with hope, optimism, and glee throughout the entire evening and spoke to his supporters who chanted “The champ is here.”

Days later Adams’ optimism quickly changed to disbelief and concern when the Board of Elections updated its results, reporting that Garcia surpassed Wiley and came in second place with 48.9% of the votes, close behind Adams with 51.1% .  Adams’ supporters were bewildered and concerned. His campaign issued a statement “The vote total just released by the Board of Elections is 100,000-plus more than the total announced on election night, raising serious questions.”

It soon became apparent that the Board of Elections was careless and mistakenly tabulated test ballots. The system was not properly checked before the numbers were reported.

On June 30, the Board of Elections admitted it had mistakenly counted 135,000 test ballots which had to be retracted (from their reported numbers). On Twitter the BOE posted, “The Board of Election conducts rigorous and mandatory pre-qualification testing for every election. It has been determined that the ballot images used for testing were not cleared from the Election Management System (EMS). When the cast vote records were extracted for the first pull of RCV results, it included both test and election night results, producing approximately 135,00 additional records. The Board staff has removed all the test ballot images from the system and will upload election night results. The cast vote record will be re-generated and the RCV rounds will be re-tabulated. The Board apologies for the error and has taken immediate measures to ensure the most accurate up to date results are reported.”

In a statement released by Adams he said, “Today’s mistake by the Board of Elections was unfortunate. It is critical that New Yorkers are confident in their electoral system, especially as we rank votes in a citywide election for the first time.”

The BOE’s error angered many New Yorkers as well as others, some called it a “national disgrace”, “a fiasco”, and “a disaster.”

Wiley referred to the mistake as an “embarrassing debacle.” “New Yorkers expect and deserve a transparent process and that every single vote is accurately counted,” said Wiley.

The launch of ranked choice voting in NYC during the primary didn’t go as expected. The mistake caused some people to question the process and fairness within the system.  “New Yorkers want a free and fair election, which is why we overwhelmingly voted to enact ranked choice voting,” said Garcia in her statement. “The Board of Elections’ release of incorrect ranked choice votes is deeply troubling and requires a much more transparent and complete explanation.”

The New York City democratic primary election with ranked choice voting was not impeccable but the Board of Election’s swift, regretful acknowledgment, apology and assurance in correcting its mistake was appreciated and praised. Adams and Curtis Sliwa, winner of the republican mayoral primary and founder of the Guardian Angels, will now debate before the general election on Tuesday, November 2.

Other primary winners:

Brad Lander(D)

Manhattan District Attorney
Alvin Bragg (D)
Thomas Kenniff (R)

Public Advocate
Jumaane Williams (D)

Bronx Borough President
Vanessa Gibson (D)

Manhattan Borough President
Mark Levine (D)

Brooklyn Borough President
Antonio Reynoso (D)

Staten Island
Mark Murphy (D)
Vito Fossella (R)


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